In a nod to the growing importance of wine bloggers, Charles Smith of K Vintners (I profiled him here) is suing anonymous commenters on a post published on Blake Gray’s Gray Market Report. To get the full power of the verbiage, read the original post on The Gray Market Report.
Charles has enjoyed the sunshine-y limelight on his wines (including praise from this professional writer) and Blake Gray didn’t particularly enjoy all of them. Some of them, yes, but not all. And Blake, as is his first amendment right to do, published his thoughts.
But Charles Smith and K Vintners accepted that in stride. It was the reactions to the post that sent them running to the courthouse. Statements like:
“Having been around Mr. Smith, he is not the winemaker; nor do his staff always listen to him. Your first impression was correct – “didn’t like him”. He is a promoter, not a winemaker.” And…
“As far as being verbally abusive to employees Charles told a female employee at Hospice du Rhone in front of maybe 200 people that ‘she could F*** up a blow job'” .
Yikes. Seeing these as slander (and there are many other scathing words), Charles Smith went to the courts and asked Google to reveal the origins of the anonymous comments. Read more details about the lawsuit here.
No one likes to see themselves smeared in print… anywhere. But what does this mean for “free speech’? Should a commenter be able to say whatever they want about someone, whether it’s true or not? What would you do if you were Charles Smith?